Show Review

Rebirth Brass Band @ Beachland Ballroom 1/17

Morgan Minch
I step into the grand old refectory to dusty, dim yellow light. I can tell this is going to be a night of intriguing dancing by the crowd—smiling, wool cap sporting New Orleans lovers alongside the Midwestern college tie-dyed folk.
​I’ve been pumped to experience Rebirth Brass Band’s energy first hand for a while now. In college I read an Ethnomusicology Journal article on Second Line music and the Treme. For those of you who don’t know, Second Line is celebratory funeral procession music that derives from early military brass band and African music. The First Line would be the funeral band playing a hymn or dirge, with the Second Line playing more free-formed, commenting layers of music. Second Line drumming is distinct in that polyrhythms, or two rhythms played simultaneously while moving at the same linear tempo, drive the style. 

The opener, Daddy Longlegs, was getting down! He had the expressiveness of Prince, played a shiny washboard and sax, and had a killer bassist behind him. His face was painted like a tiger and he had on a tousled powdered wig. Music was jazzy and at times had scales from the far East. Fine family fun.
Enter Rebirth Brass Band. I loved watching the slowly rising trombones and tuba start to communicate. Instruments were checking in with each other about a rhythm, or a mood. The first song was a blossoming of musical comments with a huge, cutting front of solid brass to end it. Not even hesitating for applause, right into the bum-shaking. They started playing "It’s All Over Now," which has a blues vocal about a heartbreaker lady. They played with the audience a call and response game, which totally fed their vibe to start evolving.
All eight players reflected the muted pastel lights as they played the carefree "Do Whatcha Wanna." I love how this one seemed like a round where they took turns, but as it grew I realized there were no cues, and they stepped in and ducked out as they heard to be fit, and tied it in with neat pulses of high horns.
The hot, lazy, buzzing of the trumpets in "Move Ya Body" incited a wild rumpus below as the crowd shook. I do a type of dancing that is by no means popular, and I just had to weave it with what I was hearing. The sonic block of brass was like a steam engine pushing through, hissing and screeching along the way. It was trance-like, with a tribal winding that went mad. I had no idea brass band instruments could achieve this kind of soundscape!
Towards the end, Rebirth Brass Band played an instrumental with elements of crime, suspense, mystery. I felt like a funky detective. Overall, it was a night of joy. This band reinvents the traditional Treme sound over and over for you.